Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 6- Twitter

For those who haven't ventured very far into the Twitterverse, the micro-blogging service Twitter can seem as though it's only purpose is to give people a platform for over-sharing ("Eating a cheeseburger at The Pub with my buddy @TechECoach") or to give snarky people a place to amuse themselves ("Flip-flops in 40 degree weather? #Genius #YourToesArentCuteIfTheyFallOff") or to give obsessive fans a place to gush about their latest passion ("Check out this pic of #LadyGaga taken at an #Arbys! Link").

Yes, this stuff exists on Twitter, but those who have gone deeper with this tool have discovered that Twitter has a lot to offer educators in terms of making connections with students and parents, collaborating with and learning from colleagues, and extending and enhancing learning.

Another complaint from those new to Twitter is how foreign the language seems with all of those symbols and abbreviations in each tweet. If this is off-putting to you, you may want to check out this link to help you get started. Learning just a few basics can make Tweets much easier to understand:


Twitter in Plain English
Twitter in 60 Seconds
Twitterholics Ultimate Guide to All Things Twitter
Mom This Is How Twitter Works

Twitter in Education

As more and more educators join Twitter, the number of ideas for using Twitter in schools grows. A simple Google search for Twitter in Education will bring up many resources worth exploring, and I encourage you to do so, but for those of you who are short on time, here are a few resources to get you started:

60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom
100 ways to Use Twitter in Education
28 Simple Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom
100 Twitter Tips for Teachers

Some of my favorite examples of uses for Twitter in education include:
  1. Using Twitter as a backchannel for live discussions around an event. For example, students live tweeting to a hashtag during the Presidential Debate.
  2. Crowd-sourcing resources to a Twitter handle. For example having the student body tweet pictures of school events to the journalism department Twitter account.
  3. Using Twitter to find answers. For example, creating a Google survey and tweeting it out to collect responses from the world.
  4. Learning the art of brevity. For example, having students tweet book summaries, main ideas or short poems to share.
  5. Promoting the great things that are going on in class or school. Example, having a class hashtag or school account as a resource for parents to get updates or learn about your class/school.
And my absolute favorite use for Twitter is as a personalized method of professional development. I use Twitter to learn in several ways. First, I follow as many great educators as I can. I find that the educator Twitter community is full of people discovering and sharing great digital resources and teaching ideas. So, really, I am putting the Twitter community to work for me. The resources they share come to me pre-vetted by fellow teachers. Also, I like that I can pop onto Twitter at anytime and find something worth investigating because sometimes I only have a few minutes to spare, but I can use that time well by learning something new. Of course, I also do my best to share great resources that I find for others on Twitter.

Second, I learn by taking part in formal Twitter chats. There are several Twitter chats that happen weekly that really push my thinking and learning. It's nice to know that not only do I have local colleagues with whom I can learn and collaborate, I also have a world-wide community of educators who are dealing with the same issues that I am.

Finally, I learn via Twitter by engaging in direct conversations with great teachers who I otherwise wouldn't be connected. The Twitter education community has a very positive and welcoming culture that makes reaching out to someone I've never met easy and rewarding. I can honestly say I've had meaningful conversations with education leaders that I would otherwise have to pay a lot of money to see in an impersonal setting at a conference. I also know that if I tweet out a question to my followers, I will likely find someone who will tweet me back with an answer. The power of this personal learning network constantly amazes me.

Your Challenge

Take a few minutes to explore the links above or the LiveBinder below. If you don't already have a Twitter account, start one, and try following a few people. Here is a link to some recommendations. You might also look at an education hashtag like #edchat or #INelearn. Then, share your ideas about how Twitter could be used in the classroom. If you use Twitter educationally, share with the group the ways in which you have used Twitter as a learning tool.

39 comments:

  1. While I see so mnay positives to Twitter in education I don't think I can muster the energy or time it takes to fully understand and implement this one into my daily routine. I know the kids are on it constantly and maybe it would be a way to reach another layer of students... but I can't get sucked in to yet another place of posting (RDS, MBC, Web page, Angel, classroom walls, phone calls, and emails) One central location is ideal for it all. As I read a few of the ideas at the 60 Inspriring Ways to Use it; I am thinking how can I use this but right now is not a time to try to learn (and I am not a half way user of anything!) another tool. Maybe another smester...

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    1. Leah, I totally understand. I hope you will at least create an account. Almost a year passed between when I first created my account and when I really began using Twitter, but just getting in to the environment allowed me to get a sense of how the Twitter community works ahead of full participation. Most Twitter users report going through stages as participants: Lurking, Sharing, and Leading. The lurking stage is important because it is a time for learning the language of Twitter and seeing what this tool has to offer.

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  2. When I first saw today's challenge was about Twitter, I have to admit I was a bit crestfallen. I see so many people sucked into social media that they seem to forget the real world that is around them, especially with Twitter and the most inane things people tweet. Though this is not the first time I have read about Twitter in the classroom, I have always felt opposed to using Twitter almost as a matter of principle. Most uses I have read involve things like keeping students updated on assignments and class activities, as a place to answer questions for all the students to see, etc. These are all things that I can already do by using My Big Campus, Angel (for the rest of this year at least), or a classroom blog.

    However, as I read the article on 28 Simple Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom, I found a really cool idea. Number 25 talks about using it to supplement foreign language lessons. This isn't too far of a stretch for languages like Spanish, German, or French which are commonly taught in high school. I thought to myself though, how cool would it be to have a twitter conversation entirely in Latin? So many people have serious misconceptions about the healthy UNDEAD life of the Latin language. They forget there are crazy Latin enthusiasts like me out there. It would be a great way to promote the classics not only in my school, but all over the world. It sounds so awesome to me that I might actually create a Twitter account just to try it out.

    So thank you, Tim, for putting together this awesome list of resources for ideas on how to use Twitter for the greater good. You may have very well changed my mind about using Twitter.

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  3. That makes me happy. I love the idea of Latin Twitter conversations! If you decide to try that, let me know how it goes!

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  4. Like several of my colleagues who have responded, I have studiously ignored Twitter in my classroom (and my life, for that matter). My teaching partner and I keep a thoroughly updated Weebly website for our Academy students and try not to confuse them with more than one source of information. However, I do like some of the uses of Twitter that aren't about directly communicating with students. For example, choosing someone to follow. As part of our Social Justice curriculum, students follow a social justice issue through a variety of news source websites. Students could follow a Twitter feed for an organization, PETA or Amnesty International for instance. Students also participate in Literature Circles what could use a Twitter for out of class comments or as part of a culminating book project. Who knows, I might give Twitter a try.

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  5. I have a professional Twitter account which I use for professional development and connection with other educators. I have also used a different Twitter account to communicate with students strictly regarding assignments. Other questions (too long for Twitter) go through my Weebly or email.

    I am planning to do a specific assignment later in the year once students have developed long-writing skills. We will write six word stories and 140 character stories. I am hoping to post these via Twitter; this is a little more difficult to ask of students simply due to the age of those with whom I work, but I like the concept of limiting them, particularly for a social media device which is useful in so many ways!

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  6. I have a twitter account, but never use it. I set it up to get ahold of someone when I wanted a quick response. It accomplished its goal. I know that some students are all about tweeting and others hate it. I'm a person who avoids twitter. It feels like it is just another place to post unimportant information, as was confirmed in that video clip "Twitter in Plain English." In the second clip, twitter seems to actually be useful--sharing articles and helpful sites with people who would be interested in them. It would make sorting through an internet search a bit easier.
    I'd be more willing to use it as a professional resource, and I would encourage students to use it as one too. It seems like there is a wealth of information that has been sorted. I can see benefits if students or parents are tweeting a teacher with questions, but I honestly can't see myself using this in the classroom any time soon. Email and messaging through mybigcampus are working just fine for me. I'm concerned about the lack of face to face communication our students are being exposed to because of social media.

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  7. I'll admit it. I don't Twitter. I Facebook, but I haven't tackled Twitter. I have an accout, but that's about it. When I first read some of the ways to use Twitter in education, they seemed better-suited for college students. My next thought was how a blog would be better for announcements and such. But, then I found a few simple examples that I liked. For example, if you have been teaching synonyms, go on Twitter and ask for synonyms for a specific word. This could start a pretty cool brainstorming session. You could also throw out a thought-provoking question about a book the class has been reading or perhaps a current even that is being discussed. For elementary students, however, I am not sure this would work because I would assume three is an age requirement like there is for Facebook. For older kids, it only makes sense to use social media to reach them because it is what they are using anyway.

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  8. I do have a twitter account, but I don't think I have logged in more than a handful of times. I think it could be a good tool for learning, but until we as educators build up our knowledge base (for me, I need some intensive training), I think the fear of social media will prevent me from using this tool in an elementary classroom.

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    1. There are so many technology apps and gadgets that I have done the very same thing with. Good intentions and so little time.

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  9. I also do not twitter, but I do see the benefits of using it as a part of one's PLC. I know many colleagues that follow some really neat educational threads. I am not certain that I want to have a twitter account, but after reading these comments, I may think about it some more.

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  10. I have a few twitter accounts and have them linked in various ways for the various ways I use them. For my school account @edtechintegrate I share interesting links and things that are going on around my world. I try to jump on there a few times a week to share out things. I'm definitely not an everyday type gal, simply because my to-do list is already long enough. I do like following others who inspire me and finding great things through those I follow.

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  11. I am just starting to post tweets myself, but I love reading tweets of those I follow -- especially those in the education community. Many of the tech tools and resources I use come from people who have shared them on Twitter. One way I'd like to use it (other than for PD) is to get info from people who have travelled to places I talk about in class. I think it would be interesting to ask for comments from people who have visited Germany, for example, and then share them with my students. I have very few students who use twitter since I teach 6th grade, but I would like to work more on finding ways to bring Twitter to them.

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  12. Thanks Tim for mentioning the #INeLearn hashtag! The office of eLearning has created an account so that we can tweet out everything from resources, good news and events. If you follow @INeLearn, we will follow you back (provided we recognize you as an Indiana educator). We love to RT (retweet) cool things happening in real classrooms and schools across the state.

    When I joined the eLearning team, the one thing that really excited me was the mission to connect learners (educators) across the state. Twitter makes that possible in so many ways. One of the easiest is the "chats" that take place, so of course; we started a chat just for Indiana teachers. On Wednesdays from 3:30-4:30 CST (essentially right after school) we get together using the hashtag #INeLearn. If you are new to chatting on Twitter this is the perfect learning place. First of all, we are just beginning so it's not a huge crowd. And that means that the stream of tweets is not overwhelming. I hope that you consider joining us this week. In honor of the 30 Day Challenge, the topic is "What I wish I knew going into my first Twitter chat!" I'll be there @mrg_3 and hope to see you then!

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  13. I have a Twitter account and use it, currently, as a place to scan and get inspired for ideas. I have been hoping to use it more this year--but time to "tweet" seems to slip away. MANY of my students have it and I've been thinking about ways to bring that to life. We did talk about it in our study of social media. However, I'm thinking about looking at the "tweet history" as a way to look at narrative writing in a social media world. What do their "tweets" say about them? I've got to find time to make this a priority.

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  14. I don't want to twitter bash, so I will keep it short... I don't like twitter because of some of the exact things said above. Frankly I agree with the others. There are so many better ways to keep in touch now, most of which typically promote students typing more than 4 letters at a time, that I can see myself signing up for twitter and actually using it.

    On the upside I do see how having the ability to quickly and rapidly get messages out to parents and students is very appealing. I also find the idea of tweeting what happened in class that day as intriguing. It would solve a lot of the problems with students not informing the parents of tests till the last second and so on.

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  15. I have considered using Twitter, or the premise of Twitter, in my classroom already this year, so I am glad that it is part of the 30 day challenge. Twitter is blocked on the middle school netbooks, so posting would have to be something done outside of the classroom on another computer or done as a decoration in the room (i.e. a class twitter feed poster).
    Last year I learned about a great lesson from a fellow teacher where he had his students write a brief, but powerful description of a scene or event. The description had to be short enough to Tweet. I am planning a lesson around this for this year.
    I have also played around with having my students do summaries of class work in 40 characters or less for exit cards to really get them thinking about what all they have done throughout the day.

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    1. Twitter is blocked for the middle schools and not the high school netbooks? Interesting.

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    2. As a note in the EVSC, Twitter is blocked on all student devices utilizing our network because Indiana law requires the user to be 18 years old to enter into a contract such as that of twitter. However, that does not mean that teachers cannot utilize twitter. There are way's of including tweets in other media sources such as integrating it with MBC so the tweets show on students activity page and creating a twitter feed into a class website, such as weebly.

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  16. I have tried using Twitter and find it VERY constraining. You have such a limited space to write, I have a difficult time using it for myself. I could see it being useful when we are doing a discussion having students twitter their thoughts would be unique.

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  17. I have tried using Twitter and find it VERY constraining. You have such a limited space to write, I have a difficult time using it for myself. I could see it being useful when we are doing a discussion having students twitter their thoughts would be unique.

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  18. Twitter is what really showed me how valuable constant Professional Development really can be. There is no program and no set parameters for the learning. I can choose what to read, who to follow, and who to engage with. It helped me grow and develop as articles came through and as I began to think and share with other educators across the world.

    Twitter has a stigma, but its something that can be avoided. We live in a social world where ideas and thoughts are shared freely. You can tailor Twitter to be whatever voice you want it to be in your life. For me, it's a professional inlet and outlet. For others, it is a place to connect with students both in and out of the class.

    As you look at examples and ideas, remember that it is whatever YOU make of it.

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  19. My school district and school do not allow personal electronic devices. Even though our students are issued net books, twitter is one of the blocked sites. In fact, to respond to these daily posts, I have to do so at home. This morning I typed my post at school and went to publish it and got the nice "This site is blocked memo". Consequently, until my district realizes the power and appropriate use of social media, my students will not be tweeting in class. For now, I have a bulliten board with laminated strips where students can "tweet" positive messages. They love it and I am amazed at what they share and how they police each other so nothing negative or nasty is posted.

    I do use twitter to enlarge my PLC. After this past summer's conference, I added several to the list that I follow. It is not uncommon for me to log in to my twitter account and have over 500 unread tweets. Just not enough time in the day to keep up with it but I do get great ideas from others. For those of you who teach English/reading check out The Nerdy Book Club on facebook (Donalyn Miller aka The Book Whisperer moderates it.) Every Monday they have a book talk on twitter where they share the newest titles in children's and YA books (#titletalk).
    This is a great way to get instant feedback and great ideas from other educators.

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  20. When it comes to Twitter I am more of a stalker than a talker. Too much technology and not enough time in the day. I agree with most of the other posts about some times I think we need to teach our students what face to face conversation looks like. I also think it is limited and maybe better suited for older classes or you can use a blog for better use of conversation and writing. I did like the idea of if you have a student that blurts out that they could use Twitter instead. We are getting ready to take a trip to the Iceman game and I like the idea of trip tracking. Unfortunately we do not have one to one so we will not be tweeting during the game. The last idea that I like is that of following other professionals for great ideas.

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  21. Twitter is a fantastic tool and has helped make me a better educator. The great thing about Twitter is that it helps me connect the dots. I often say that when to look up a fact, I Google it but when I need more than a fact I go to Twitter.

    I participate in #edchat on Tuesdays as often as I can and I help moderate the #flipclass chat on Monday nights at 7 PM Central time. I encourage you to take advantage of the great people on Twitter and also share your amazing talent with others.

    As @web20classroom says, "We're all smarter when we share."

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  22. Twitter is not something I have gotten into yet. I just checked out some of the above mentioned - and I could see where they might benefit some, but I feel that I would use a blog or MBC to communicate with parents and students as opposed to Twitter. I think it might be fun to Twitter hints for a test, to use it as a review game possibly....Will have to play with this one before making a decision.

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  23. Reading all the comments above validated some of the feelings I have been having lately. I have questioned how many different technology tools can I realistically be expected to use and keep up with daily. I did create a twitter account at the eLearning conference this summer. I don't know that I am ready to use it yet with my students, but I would like to start using it for my own professional development. Thank you for the list of suggested people to follow. I have started following some of them and look forward to what they have to share. I am thinking of sending a survey to my students and parents to see how many of them are using it. If I find that many of them are, I may decide to start using it as another way to keep parents update.

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  24. OK, so I have a twitter account that is hardly used ever! It started out to follow goofy things like celebrities and the latest gossip! (Oh no - don't tell!) That got really old fast!

    As far as using it in the classroom, we have a wall on the way out of the classroom that is our "Twitter" feed where kids write exit slips on what they learned. Lame. I'm sure an actual Twitter conversation about what we just learned would be way cooler! However, like Melissa said, no one to one environment yet!

    I like the idea of getting out announcements to parents quickly via twitter, but more parents seem to have email than twitter. It would be nice however to get out quick announcements or a question/topic to the parents to practice at home.

    Last, having only a set amount of characters is kind of great idea when you are learning about summarizing! I would love to have kids summarize the book for the day. Whoever does it the best in 140 characters or less would get to tweet it!

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  25. Twitter has become my most powerful tool for building my PLN (Personal Learning Network). I have connected with global educators and some of the greatest minds in education through Twitter. I have also connected with EVSC and #INLearn colleagues in new and powerful ways. It is amazing what you can learn from following a few good hashtags! Don't be overwhelmed by the possibilities. Jump in where you are and see if you can learn just ONE thing this week. I bet you won't stop there!

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  26. I would love to connect with all of you through Twitter. Please post your @TwitterName and we will add you to the EVSC network of educators

    @TechECoach

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    1. My professional one:
      @delynbeard

      My class's twitter:
      @beardsbrains

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  27. I have had an account for about a year now. I switched from a personal to more professional view about Twitter, because I was on the fence about Too Much Information going out, and really the purpose of seeking out a PLC is to learn, not go on about myself! I have found a great community of music and technology people, both on Twitter and Facebook. I can also proudly say that I got results with a tweet a couple of months ago, I sent out a tweet in frustration asking Classdojo.com for a feature to be updated, and they saw it and answered me with a solution! Tweet prayers are answered (sometimes)!

    @devries_jolie

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  28. I've just started delving into the Twitter universe with my students, although I've used it routinely for the past year or so to keep in touch with former students and to increase my Personal Learning Network. Depending on how busy my week is, I may check my feed daily or weekly and I've found, based on who/what I've chosen to follow, I am a more aware citizen, a more informed teacher, a more motivated individual, and I get a good laugh from some comedians I follow as well as the trials and tribulations of former students (now in college).

    Now that I've stepped into the Twitter universe with my current students, I'm able to share pictures and videos from class activities in the moment and my students love it--and I love that they want to share with their social network the fun things we're doing in class. My student teacher just did an activity where my AP Language students tweeted during the last debate and it was great to see them critically thinking about what they were hearing. I'm looking forward to using it as a backchannel during an upcoming in-class film viewing as a way for me to follow their thinking.

    On a final note, I did struggle a bit with whether or not to create a separate account for students, my PLN, and friends and family, but what I've discovered is that if a particular tweet doesn't apply to a certain group of people, they don't read it--which is exactly what I do with those I follow--so I just keep it the same and differentiate for my students with a hashtag.

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  29. I wish I could say I want to incorporate Twitter into my daily life, but lately I feel so stressed out with everything coming at me, I'm not sure I have the energy to learn another thing. I do have a twitter account, but I don't really look at it. Maybe at some point, I will really take a look at what it has to offer. As I read the comments, I can see that it can be a really useful tool for teachers if used correctly. Someday........

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  30. I agree with Kathy here--sometimes it's enough just to be able to make it through the day. With all of the different forms of social media available, I think a person must pick her one or two platforms and stick with those in order to not feel too overwhelmed. The thing about Twitter is it's like water--always moving--where with places like Facebook or Pinterest, I feel as if I can check them once or twice during the day and not feel as if I missed anything. I do wish I could use Twitter more effectively with my students because they are almost all on Twitter throughout the day. Earlier this week, I assigned my AP students to compose 3 tweets based on The Awakening, and when I gave them 10 minutes to do this, they looked at me like I was crazy--not near enough time to compose three 140-character posts. "How many tweets do you guys post throughout this class?" Please. Assignments like these challenge students to be creative and succinct--even if you're not using the actual Twitter website to post.

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  31. I love Twitter. LOVE. IT.
    As many have stated, it has made me a better educator. I have connected with some of the most amazing 4th grade teachers across the country! I participate in #4thchat on Monday evenings, as well as #flipchat.

    Stay tuned, because #elemflip will launch soon!

    I believe the secret to navigating the Twitterverse is understanding the hashtags - they tell you on which highway you want to drive, and you can block out the unimportant nonsense. (I don't care to know what Lady Gaga had for breakfast, for example.)

    My students tweet about our upcoming projects, and we have collaborated with some cool 4th grade classes in other states. We are @beardsbrains so feel free to follow us and see what we're up to!

    @delynbeard

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  32. I have a twitter account but I don't use it. As a matter of fact I just got back on it for this challenge and I only follow two people and one is a new source :-) I have looked at all of the resources above but twitter seems a little confusing and complicated. I, like some others would need intensive training or a real need to learn it. I can see some uses for it such as the idea of a twitter survey to the student body asking about bullying or other issues but its seems there are easier ways to do this than twitter. I don't know if you can create an anonymous tweet but it seems that would be helpful to have a helpline twitter account for the students to report things they might not otherwise share. I know the students use it so it probably would be benefical to learn...when there is more time.

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  33. Twitter is awesome. I always had an account but never used it until this year - for the reasons stated in the blog. Also, I only followed three people so my twitterfeed wasn't interesting and I didn't realize that you could search for hashtags.

    Soon I found certain hashtags..like #chemchat and #flipclass, and began to follow certain educators who shared really good things consistently. It redefined PD for me. Casually and through example, I try to teach the value of twitter to my students. I show them how to use it professionally. Many of the frequent twitter users do not see the educational value.

    I also have used it during class. For example, "read this website on fission and fusion and summarize in a tweet."

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  34. I tweet from time to time, and follow a few people. I have found it to be useful for being in the know about what is being discussed in various circles I care about. What I know, though, is that my students are CONSTANTLY on Twitter, which means at some point I will have to plug in with them. I think my next layer of Twitter use will be to use it for our school newsletter.

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